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MTA Board Approves Hiring 500 Additional Police Officers, Despite Lawmakers’ Objections

Churro vendor Elsa before being handcuffed by police last month (Twitter @sofiabnewman)

Dec. 18, 2019 By Allie Griffin

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Board approved the hiring of 500 additional transit police officers Wednesday, despite opposition from several local lawmakers.

The board voted to approve the authority’s $17 billion budget for 2020, which included funding for the additional officers — an expected $249 million over the next four years, according to the authority’s own estimates.

The hirings will add to the nearly 2,500 NYPD officers who patrol the transit system and is on top of the MTA’s existing police force of nearly 800 officers.

A day earlier, three Queens lawmakers called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ditch his plans to hire the additional transit police officers and instead use to the money to improve subway and bus service.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and State Senators Michael Gianaris and Jessica Ramos, along with three other lawmakers, penned a letter to Cuomo on Tuesday arguing that MTA enforcement often unfairly targets low income and minority communities and that they money should be put to better use.

“In our view, desperately needed resources would be better invested in subway, bus, maintenance and service improvements, as well as protecting riders and transit workers from assault rather than in the over-policing of our communities,” the politicians wrote in the letter.

Cuomo’s proposal to ramp up MTA enforcement is meant to address quality of life crimes and fare evasion, but the lawmakers said that “arresting hard-working people who cannot afford a $2.75 fare is, in effect, the criminalization of poverty.”

They also say the hiring spree is unnecessary as overall crime on subways has decreased, citing NYPD statistics.

Instead of focusing their energy on catching turnstile hoppers, existing police should focus on protecting transit workers from an uptick in assault, the elected officials urged.

“Instead of patrolling the turnstile, existing police officers should focus on the threats faced by MTA employees,” they wrote in the letter.

The lawmakers noted the highly publicized recent arrest of a churro vendor and the arrest and tasering of a teenager at subway stations, which sparked transit advocates and elected officials to rally against the governor’s plan for 500 new officers last month.

The letter was also signed by Representatives José Serrano and Jerrold Nadler and State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.

Following the board’s decision to approve the hiring, Riders Alliance Police and Communications Director Danny Pearlstein criticized the governor, calling the new hires “the governor’s cops.”

“Today, Governor Cuomo saddled the MTA with a new police force it can’t afford and doesn’t need,” Pearlstein said. “He made that decision in the face of all evidence, arguments, and diverse voices in opposition.”

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27 Comments

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Gardens Watcher

We need better service and more police on the trains and in the stations. Shouldn’t be a choice between better service and more cops.

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Chou

Only fare evaders, criminals and low lives would people complain about efforts to reduce fare evasion, reduce crime and make everyone’s commute a bit less disgusting.

1022
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Samantha

Something seems a little fishy here… oh wait, nevemind. Its NY as usual wasting money and targeting the poor and minorities.

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Sariah

Given that the cops have recently assaulted innocent people on the subway who were minding their own business, it sure doesn’t seem like hiring more cops is gonna help.

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Mac

Marc – You can tell who somebody is by posting handles like Lou, Queens Lady, Jill, Heather, caring parent, etc..I can tell something about you from your post.

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Observer

And everyday maurading teenagers are mugging attacking harrassing adults with mre frequency than we’ve seen in years. BTW keep your stinkin graffiti in your own backyards!

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Anonymous

Terrible idea that helps no one. Would make more sense if they were outside. Spend that money on actually fixing the trains!

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LIC and fed up.

Yup proactive cops willing to kick a smelly homeless person laid out on an entire bench during rush hour off the train

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Lou

What does the pic of Elsa, the churro vendor, who had two open warrants have to do with this story? Cops are doing more on the subways to keep the public safe. They are not just going after non licensed churro sellers who are blocking pathways and stinking up the subways.

1086
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Wow you must think about her a lot

What do “non licensed churro sellers who are blocking pathways and stinking up the subways” have to do with the MTA board again? Oh, right; you’re just doing the same thing you pretended to be offended by.

I wonder why you had so many anti-churro arguments at the ready 🤔

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Sara

To be fair, if they lowered the US citizen and high school diploma plus at least 60 college credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA requirements more people would be able to apply in NYC. They should also give preference to applicants that speak other languages like Spanish.

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Even without evaders, the 7 train would be delayed

We do not need police in the station, we need them on the Streets! Queens Boulvard! Northern Blvd! Not inside the station controlling a door.

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Marc

I was curious to read the article to see who would actually oppose adding more officers to deter crime in the subways. Wasn’t surprised to see the names that were against it.
What idiotic politicians we have.
3rd world countries are laughing at us cause of the inferior politicians we have. AOC is by far lower than inferior, she’s more of a cartoon character.

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caring parent

more police is fine but I don’t see any upgrade with a camera. police is not there 24/7, but camera is.

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Ahmet

And no selling nothing on platforms without a license! People should only buy from licensed street vendors which are around many subway entrances and exists.

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Kyle

This is basically done to make mostly white tourists and the rich feel safer and increase subway revenue among those groups.

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Heather

And those stations, wagons, card machines and escalators will remain old, outdated, dirty, defective and ugly. What a waste of money!

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ShuddapAOC

Bring on the cops- Every other week theres a post about some creep touching himself on the train. Maybe they can find a reason to arrest these bums all drugged out on the stations too

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